ARE ANTI-BACTERIAL SOAPS REALLY NECESSARY?


Anti-bacterial products are the craze these days, especially now with the H1N1 scare.  About 75% of liquid soaps and 30% of bar soaps contain an anti-bacterial agent with triclosan the most common.  More and more personal care and cleaning products are adding anti-microbial agents every day.  Is anti-bacterial soap really better?  Or necessary?  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, anti-bacterial soaps are not necessary for several reasons.   The anti-bacterial components need to be left on for two minutes in order to work.  Most people do not do this.  Bacteria can possibly develop a resistance to the bacterial agents over time. Bacteria that survive the introduction of triclosan can mutate into a new strain that resists the antimicrobial chemical’s effects.  Their widespread use may be causing these products to lose their effectiveness.   Some bacteria are actually beneficial and not only control sweat, but also help defend us against truly harmful bacteria.  Many infections are viral and can’t be prevented by anti-bacterial products anyway.

So what’s the solution?  A thorough and frequent hand washing with soap and water, scrubbing for 20 seconds or about the time it takes to say the alphabet is one of the most effective ways to ward off infection.

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